A procrastinating and distracted Rowan can’t dodge her hereditary responsibilities much longer as the forces of good and evil close in.
Glorious story tension and gorgeous art enchant Black Magick #15. Writer Greg Rucka and artist Nicola Scott have crafted a slow-burn supernatural masterpiece in their latest collaboration, and issue #15 finds all the chess pieces on the board closing in on a distracted (and woefully unprepared) Detective Rowan Black.
Rucka’s deliberate pacing of the story builds palpable tension throughout as we see the story threads cultivated from the very first issue finally closing in around Rowan—and because she’s chosen to ignore warnings from her most trusted friends, she’s unaware that events are about to converge in horrific fashion. Rucka’s nimble, compact dialogue and smooth movement between plot threads make it fascinating to watch the depressed and unfocused Rowan continually miss the hints that catastrophe is around the corner.
At work, Internal Affairs officers are building a case against Rowan and believe that she actually committed and covered up a murder. Her former partner has lost faith in her and is speaking to IA about Rowan’s suspicious activities. Rowan’s personal life is a hot mess as she embarks on an ill-advised fling with Nicky, who would like to believe they really could have a relationship, but from the outside it appears to have the “distraction” red flag all over it. And as for her magical responsibilities—perhaps the most neglected portion of her life—Rowan continually ignores Alex’s warnings and Hawthorne’s pleas that she seriously consider (for a change) the threats posed by the witch hunters and the ever-encroaching demons.
Nicola Scott is producing career-defining work with this series. From the personal details of each character, including hair styles, clothing types, and exquisite facial expressions, to the details of each setting, Scott’s lush panels are constructed as snapshots of real life. World-building in black and white was also a clear priority, as she deftly forges Rowan’s surroundings into living, breathing characters on their own. The clean, comfortable lines of the police station once brought Rowan a sense of purpose, while the confines of the IA office are made stark through a noticeable lack of background detail. Furniture, artwork, and floor rugs establish Rowan’s ancestral house as a real home and underscore all that she has to lose by keeping her head in the sand. When Chiara Arena’s tasty colors appear, they lend weight and emotion to the scene. From a “doll” on fire and blood-red tears to Hawthorne’s green-toned speech balloons (kudos to Jodi Wynne’s beautiful letters) and the ice blue of Rowan’s magic, these compelling artistic choices embellish the magic tone of this gorgeous title.
If you haven’t delved into this book yet, give the trades a try, but clear your schedule first because you won’t be able to put them down.
Greg Rucka (W), Nicola Scott (A), Chiara Arena (C) Jodi Wynne (L) • Image Comics, $3.99
Review by Karen O’Brien